'The Sixth Sense' brings us what thriller/horrors should really be about.
They should be about getting scared.Forget about the over burden of special effects and cleavages that has been dished out by Hollywood for us to dish out our hard(ish) working dollar to see in recent times. Now we have the fantastic and quite original, 'The Sixth Sense' to scuttle away those films and allow us to see people looking out for what's behind them.
The production line horror/thriller have been on a bit of a high lately. What with the Screams and I Know What You Did Last Summers, a vein had been rediscovered, and Hollywood was going to mine it for all it's worth. At the moment it seems to be on its last legs. The Faculty only made $40 million in the US. That was with a $30 million marketing budget. Ouch - that has got to hurt.
So the time was right to put the final surprise knife twist in the back while in the shower to get rid of the current horror / thriller fad.
Malcolm Crowe (Willis) is a successful - award winning even - child psychologist. He and his wife Anna (Williams) are celebrating a civil award given to Malcolm when a disgruntled former patient comes to visit via the bedroom window to disagree with his mood disorder diagnosis.
A couple of months later Malcolm meets up with Cole Sear (Osment) - a kid having similar troubles to Malcolm's patient visitor of the opening scene. Malcolm is understandably keen on correcting a previous wrong and so takes an interest in Cole who feels that he can see and talk to ghosts.
Writer / director, Shyamalon, does a wonderful job in setting the tone of the film. He manages to give a film of restraint with an original injection of gentle humour, while still dealing with deeply entrenched fears with great effectiveness. He does this despite the limited special effects (with only some simple make up) and the basic feel of the movie. The Philadelphia setting does help though giving the movie a sense of historical setting.
Willis, Williams and Collette (as Cole's struggling mother) all are very good. Willis is not that far from his usual performances, it's just that this time that he is in a very different (i.e. very good) film. Collette, we can now rely on to do a commendable job.
It's Osment's performance though that will be best remembered. His ability to show his torturing burden of crippling fear is incredible. The way he deals with the humour and how he seems to mature during the film are also things to praise in Osment's performance. Osment has been around for a while - he played Murphy Brown's child as well as Forrest Gump Jnr.
It makes you wonder what he could have done with the role of Anakin Skywalker - he might have, y'know, made that an interesting film.
Other films have shown up the bad horror/thrillers that had been part of a fad at the time. Hitchcock's 'Psycho' did it back in 1960. 'Jaws' did it too. I thought I was going to have to wait for 'The Blair Witch Project' in December (in Australia) for a film to scare away the pretenders, but 'The Sixth Sense' has got in first.
Incidentally, Hitchcock famously had the habit of doing cameos in his own films. Shymalon also does this as well as showing some classic elements of ghost stories such as the tradition that ghost come back to settle unfinished business or to correct a previous wrong.
'The Sixth Sense' is ultimately a film about self-discovery, acceptance of fate and of course, confronting fears. Shymalon has a history of making uplifting and amusing films and this film has these elements in it as well.All of the parts of this film come nicely together to bring an ending that you should be able to pick up on (there's a hint in this review, but is nevertheless quite clever and maybe even a little bit scary.